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  • Lessons learnt in 2014 through education research
  • Posted By:
  • Jamie K
  • Posted On:
  • 06-Mar-2015
  • Thousands of pieces of educational research in the form of doctoral dissertations, research papers, studies and conference presentations are churned out each year. After these papers are presented, what happens to them? Nothing! They just pile up in the library or somewhere on the internet gathering dust.

    Only a very few pieces reach the hands of policymakers, principals and teachers. If we look at the top 10 most read articles in 2014, we can form a clear picture of where our education system is heading.

    When it comes to teaching math effectively to first graders, researchers found that aids and drills that were used way back in the olden days are the most effective. The latest creative methods like student directed learning, math toys and music are not as result oriented, they say.

    This research was conducted by University of California researchers who examined a total of 13,000 first grade math students. According to them, those who were in the bottom 15% in math were involved in activities that had no hint of improving performance or fostering retention.

    They found that the traditional way of teacher explaining the sums repeatedly to students and asking them to work by themselves giving them a lot of drills and worksheets worked the best in improving their skills.

    When it comes to our overall higher education situation, one bright point is our president’s proposal to offer community college students two years of free education. Columbia University researchers tracked at least 24,000 community college students during 2001-2002.

    Across various credentials earned by these students, researchers compared their employment status and wages after seven years. Higher wages were earned by students with long-term certificates and associate degrees as compared to those who attended but did not complete their education at community colleges.

    Another aspect highlighted by top research studies is regarding alignment between set of standards and teacher curriculum. This research conducted by University of Southern California researchers used 324 researchers from large school districts. One of the major parameters was to measure the ability of teachers to help students get good test scores. Results showed no meaningful relationship between test scores and aligned curriculum.

    Another research focused on finding the effectiveness of socio-emotional learning or SEL. Researchers focused on 276 classrooms in 24 schools.  Studies were conducted to find out if student performance in reading and math can be improved with an SEL based curriculum.

    Surprisingly, studies showed that when compared with students from the control group, SEL students also performed on the same level. This was definitely not the result expected by them.
    However, some teachers used curriculum designed by the researchers in exactly the way they are supposed to be and those subset of students did better in reading and math.

    This shows that only when teachers follow exactly the curriculum set based on SEL can students find substantial gains. To ensure this, teachers must be provided with exceptional training and must follow directions accurately. Overall, this shows that there is no harm in schools adopting the SEL method and trying to improve overall student performance.


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